Beware, beware the idols of March (Madness). In my lifetime, I can remember a few “idols” that took over the NCAA tournament and the heart of America for at least a few weeks. Though I’m sure there have been many others, I’m talking about the likes of:
- Kevin Pittsnogle, 2005 WVU (7 seed)
- Steph Curry, 2008 Davidson (10 seed)
- Ali Farokhmanesh, 2010 UNI (9 seed)
- Kemba Walker, 2011 UConn (3 seed)
- The entire team of Dunk City, 2013 FGCU (15 seed)
- Matt Stainbrook, 2015 Xavier (6 seed)
March Madness Idol Criteria
Extrapolating from the above legends, there are a few key criteria to become an Idol of March. Not all of these criteria need be met but the more the better:
- Plays for a ‘Cinderella’ Team (helps if they are a 7 seed or worse)
- Key player on the team and/or a fan favorite
- Name rolls off of the tongue, or in the case of an entire team, has a dope collective nickname
- Fun play style (usually 3 point shooting, iso, or dunk-centric)
- Penchant for making big plays at key moments (We need the play-by-play crew to say stuff like “Look who it is… Kemba!”, “Guess who? Pittsnogle!”, or just “CURRY!!!”)
2021 NCAA Tournament Candidates
So, who are some of the candidates for the 2021 NCAA Tournament? Let’s take a look below:
- James Bouknight G, UConn – A ton of folks are already penciling Bouk into the Kemba/Shabazz role and they might not be wrong. If UConn goes on one of their patented runs Bouknight will be the reason why. (Btw, his name is pronounced Book-night).
- Nah’shon ‘Bones’ Hyland G, VCU – Aside from being the owner of a devastatingly impressive nickname, Bones Hyland also led the Atlantic 10 in scoring and was the conference player of the year.
- Cameron Krutwig C, Loyola-Chicago – This young man checks off a lot of boxes. He leads Loyola-Chicago in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. He also looks like a 38-year-old man with a 14-year-old mustache. Definite fan favorite and, oh, he was also MVC player of the year. The only thing is if Loyola makes another deep run he will have to compete with Sister Jean for the spotlight.
- Ron Harper Jr G or Geo Baker G/F, Rutgers – Rutgers’ historic season, making the tournament for the first time in 30 years, warrants two potential March Madness Idols. Both of these two players have miles of heart and a penchant for making big plays at the right time.
- Jose Alverado G or Moses Wright F, Georgia Tech – Georgia Tech is also having a season, either of these two could emerge as the guy in the tournament. Alverado posted truly elite shooting splits (60%, 41%, 88%) and was also fourth in the country in steals per game. Moses is the premier big man in the ACC after being a “zero-star recruit“.
- Dante Harris G, Georgetown – I’m writing this before the Big East Tournament Championship Game… so, there is a good chance that Harris and 12-12 Georgetown don’t even make the NCAA Tournament. However, if they do freshman Harris will be heavily involved. Georgetown is 9-4 to finish the season and Coach Ewing has them trending in the right direction, all they need is a deep run to start Georgetown on its way back to prominence.
- Chris Duarte G, Oregon – An international man of mystery, Duarte was born in Montreal, grew up in the Dominican Republic, and played his high school ball in NY state. Duarte is also one of the best ballplayers in the Pac 12 and the entire country, posting 53%, 44%, 80% splits, and 17.3 points per game even though Oregon will be a mid seed.
- Jordan Schakel G, SDSU – The bearded, mountain-man-looking Schakel is top three in the nation in 3PT %. You can just imagine him in an early-round upset knocking down big shot after big shot while his bench loses their minds.
- Chandler Vaudrin G, Winthrop – Vaudrin is a do-it-all senior PG who really fills out the stat sheet for the Eagles though he shines as a passer as he is seventh in the nation in assists per game. A 12 v 5 or a 13 v 4 upset is very much in play for them with Vaudrin as the catalyst behind such.
- Osun Osunniyi F, St Bonaventure – A strong contender for the name portion alone, Osun leads the Bonnies defense with 2.8 blocks per game and earned A10 defensive team honors. The Bonnies have a good chance to make a run with Osun as one of five players to average 10+ ppg. If they do, you can easily picture him soaring for a huge block while the commentators yell out “OSUN with the rejection!!”